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Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  24 May 2012

LOGISTICS: Supply Chains Need to Move Beyond Efficiency to Succeed


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South African aerospace and hi-tech supply chain operate in highly competitive and dynamic market environments. They require more than just reliable delivery to gain a competitive advantage from their supply chains: Getting goods from point A to point B quickly is only the beginning. More and more, supply chains are becoming as a source of competitive leverage, helping these companies save money, operate more profitably, find new markets overseas and improve customer experience.

“In the wake of the global economic downturn, logistics as a cost-saving strategy has become more pertinent over the past three years,” says Jasen Smallbone, country sales manager, UPS South Africa, a global leader in supply chain and third-party logistics.

High-tech companies, for example, redesign and update product offerings every few months to keep up with rapid technological advances and shifting market demand. They need dynamic supply chains to adapt to the ever-changing product landscape. Smallbone says that during the economic crisis, many companies in the hi-tech industry were looking to take advantage of every available solution to respond to listless demand, excess inventory and underutilised capacity.

It's Vital to Maintain a Reliable and Efficient Supply Chain

Similarly, companies in the South African airline industry face numerous external challenges – such as rising fuel prices – that contribute to the fragility of profits. In an industry characterized by thin margins, it’s all the more important to maintain a reliable and efficient supply chain. Smallbone explains: “Airlines can only make revenue when they sell tickets and are taking to the skies. Delays in part shipments for repairs and maintenance can put further pressure on margins. Aircraft owners and managers have turned to robust logistics solutions to maximize efficiency, minimize delays, and reduce costs.”

For these industries, speed and reliability of deliveries are critical for success, but accurate inventory levels, shipment visibility, and flexibility are just as necessary. As such, companies in the South African aerospace and hi-tech arenas have invested heavily in the visibility of their respective supply chains in order to become more alert and responsive to marketplace changes.

Online applications from UPS can enhance supply chain visibility for customers by helping them monitor the movement of their consignments. With the UPS web-based application Quantum View Manage®, for example, shippers can view shipment information for multiple accounts without a tracking number, so they can see when a package is processed, where it is in transit, and when it arrives. Quantum View Manage offers complete visibility into inbound, outbound, third-party, and import shipments, saving companies time and improving efficiency.

Supply Chains Should Inform Customers with Updated Information when Shipping

“By having such a holistic view of all of your shipping activity,” says Smallbone, “you can anticipate unexpected events and inform customers with updated information and a new delivery date. You can save time by not having to enter tracking numbers for individual shipments, and you can receive immediate delivery confirmation on all of your shipments, which allows you to invoice your customers more quickly.”

Furthermore, emails provided through Quantum View Notify can detail critical supply chains’ shipment status and can be sent to businesses and their customers at predetermined intervals that they choose. “With the convenience of automated e-mail, you can immediately inform your customers of exceptions or changes in scheduling information — you save time, cut costs, and improve your customer service,” says Smallbone.

Supply Chains to Have All Round Better Results

Globally, UPS has helped South African hi-tech firms expand to new markets and capitalise on new growth opportunities through smart logistics. For the airlines, UPS’s reliable network helps keep planes in the sky and protects profit margins. For both these industries, supply chains have the power to drastically lower costs, decrease cycle times in bringing new products to market, increase customer satisfaction, and better manage uncertainty through increased flexibility.

“Companies need a reliable shipping partner to keep up with fast paced business and economic developments,” says Smallbone. “We know supply chain efficiency is no longer enough, adaptability is just as important.”

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